The Musical Stephen Colbert
Colbert sings! Colbert dances! Colbert makes jokes about the controversial, racially charged HBO project Confederacy! He’s a real triple threat, isn’t he? The opening number for the 2017 Emmys was a clever song about an emotion that a lot of people have expressed this year: how hard it was to watch something on TV that didn’t remind you of real life. But regardless of whether you can relate to that sentiment, maybe you like A-list stars, yeah? Yeah! They included: Allison Janney, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and two Sterlings (K. Brown and Archer), plus many more. The cherry on top was an extended cameo from Chance the Rapper, who dropped a verse full of TV-nerd jokes, because that’s what 2017 is now.
That Opening Monologue
At first, Colbert’s monologue seemed to skirt around the elephant in the room; he stuck to mainly boilerplate industry-gala humor that caters to show business egos. He called out certain titles, thanked CBS boss Les Moonves, rattled off a list of fake streaming services — Florp, Glorp, Uber Eyeball — and threw in friendly jabs at in-the-room celebs like the nominated Milo Ventimiglia and the not-nominated Oprah Winfrey. But, of course, the main event quickly became the political jokes. “These days, everyone loves streaming video — just ask Ted Cruz,” Colbert zinged. And if anyone thought he might spare Donald Trump as to not alienate portions of the TV-viewing audience, they were very wrong — Trump jokes made up about half the monologue. It was all capped off with an appearance from the former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer — or, as Colbert called him, Melissa McCarthy.
Laura Dern Wins Her First Emmy
“I’ve been acting since I was 11 years old, and I think I’ve worked with maybe 12 women — so thank you to the Academy for honoring our show,” the Big Little Lies (and Twin Peaks) star said upon receiving her trophy. I think everyone can agree that was a pretty cool moment… well, everyone except Jackie Hoffman.
Baldwin Wins an Emmy for Trump
“At long last, Mr. President, here is your Emmy.” Well done, Alec Baldwin (and apologies to Hilaria, who apparently isn’t into Alec in an orange wig). Then he got deep: “When you die, you don’t remember a bill that Congress passed or a decision the Supreme Court made or an address made by the President — you remember a song, you remember a line from a movie, you remember a book, a painting, a poem.”
Colbert Enters Westworld
A naked Stephen Colbert and fellow robot Tituss Burgess got tuned up by Westworld star Jeffrey Wright. Thankfully for everyone at home (and everywhere, to be honest), Stephen Colbert’s butt crack was blurred out.
9 to 5 Reunites
What happens when Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton get together again? They say this: “Back in 1980 in that movie, we refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” You can fill in the rest! (Ed. Note: Parton also made jokes about her ample bust, as mandated by law.)
RuPaul As Emmy
It was a very short and very silly segment, but it did result in RuPaul calling the People’s Choice Award trophy “a basic woman — last time I hung out with her, she went home with a bowling trophy.”
Lena Waithe’s Historic Win
Master of None creator Aziz Ansari stood to the side as Waithe basked in the moment. And what a moment it was: Waithe is the first ever African-American woman to win a comedy-series writing Emmy. (Anyone who’s seen the episode “Thanksgiving,” which is what earned her the trophy, will understand why.) She also gave a shout-out to her “LGBTQIA family,” whom she compared to caped superheroes, and everyone in the room seemed fittingly moved by the milestone they were witnessing.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Breaker of Records
While her character Selina Meyer can’t do anything right, it seems JLD can do wrong: She has now won the Best Actress in a Comedy Emmy six — six! — years in a row. This is the first time this has ever happened. Enjoy the moment, Julia — until next year, of course, when you’ll likely become the first woman to win it seven times in a row.
Sterling K. Brown’s Orchestra-Damning Speech
They tried to play him off, but nobody plays Sterling K. Brown off. His speech had so, so many gems. For one thing, he turned the tables on the This Is Us cast and made them cry like stupid babies. Now they know how it feels! “You are the best white TV family that a brother has ever had,” Brown exclaimed. “Better than the one who raised Webster!” On top of that, he gave an immensely charming TV-fanboy speech that referenced past greats like Walter White (of Breaking Bad fame) and Dick Whitman (a.k.a. the real Don Draper). He gave a special shout out to his idol Andre Braugher, who won the same trophy decades ago for his work on Homicide: Life on the Streets. If you ask us, the speech itself deserved its own Emmy.